Cooking Classes


Rhubarb Ice Cream - Red & White for Canada Day

July 1 marks Canada's 143rd birthday.  My how time flies when you are having a good time!  I remember visiting Expo 67 for our 100th birthday.  Now that is dating me!

To mark this birthday, I thought I would follow Valli's lead at More Than Burnt Toast and make something with the colours of Canada's flag.  Julie at Dinner with Julie had a great idea for ice cream with rhubarb.  That is definitely red and white.  I have adapted it to use my favourite ice cream recipe.

I like to make a custard.  It just feels more like I made something.  I like this recipe for a few reasons.  Firstly, it uses the entire egg.  Therefore there are no egg whites sitting in the fridge waiting for another use.  With the egg white in the ice cream, it adds a bit of protein to all that fat and sugar.  Secondly, it uses half and half rather than full cream.  It is still very rich and creamy.

This ice cream is really more pink than red and white.  Don't be afraid to leave the rhubarb in larger chunks when you roast them because it does break down when it is in the ice cream maker.  You might even want to hold back some of the roasted rhubarb to add later so you will have nice pieces of it.  There is just something about rhubarb that calls for a great big scoop!

Roasted Rhubarb Ice Cream

Cut about 2 pounds of rhubarb into one inch pieces.  Spread on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper.  Sprinkle with 3/4 cup of sugar.  Roast at 400F for about 20 minutes.  The rhubarb will be tender and all the juices will be bubbling with the sugar and carmelizing.  Chill.

To make the ice cream custard:

Beat 2 eggs until foamy.  Beat in 1/2 cup sugar.  Beat in 2 cups of half and half cream.  Cook in a double boiler until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  Chill.

Mix the rhubarb with the chilled custard and process in ice cream maker according to their directions.


Chocolate Pavlovas with Chocolate Mascarpone Cream

This is not nearly as complicated as it looks with all the recipes below.  Here is how I did it...

I put the egg whites into my stand mixer bowl and the yolks in the top of my double boiler.  I made the chocolate pavlova and baked it as directed.  I completely forgot about the yolks sitting on my counter until the next morning!  But, since they would be fully cooked I was not concerned about salmonella.

I made the Crème Anglaise by adding the sugar to the yolks in the top of my double boiler.  Then I heated the cream and milk and tempered (Egg yolks must be tempered when hot liquids, like milk or cream, are added so that the eggs do not scramble. Tempering gradually introduces the hot liquid, so that the yolks are slowly brought up to the warmer temperature.)  the yolks.

I put them on the double boiler and cooked until done.  I find this is the safest and easiest way to get a nice egg based sauce.  Because I had those slightly crusty yolks, I did pass the mixture through a fine sieve and it turned out perfectly.

Then I made the chocolate mousse as directed.  However, there is always a 'however', I think I over beat the cream with the mascarpone because the mascarpone did break a little.  But it tasted and looked fine in the final product.

I made the mini pavlovas free hand with a large spoon.  But I did pipe the mousse into the shells.  This is an extemely rich dessert and I would suggest making small portions.  I fanned a strawberry as a garnish and drizzled with the Crème Anglaise.

I used the best chocolate I could get my hands on.  I had purchased a good quality cocoa powder in Calgary, Bensdorp Dutch Process Cocoa.  I ordered my chocolate from Chocolat Chocolat Inc in Montreal and it arrived very quickly.  While I was ordering, I thought I may as well make it worth my while so ordered a kilogram of three different chocolates.  I have a Venezuelan (72%), St. Domonique (70%) and Alto el Sol (65%).  I used the Venezuelan for this recipe.  It has a very rich, bitter and fruity flavour and worked well.

Since I live alone and this makes more than I (and my neighbours behind me) can eat at once, I have frozen the extra pavlova shells.  I also made rosettes of mousse on a silpat lined tray and froze them.  Once frozen, I have put them between layers of parchment paper in a firm, airtight container in the freezer.  These will be ready for the next time I have guests.  The Crème Anglaise does not freeze as well, but it isn't essential in the finished product.  I will just garnish with fresh berries.

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

Recipe 1: Chocolate Meringue (for the chocolate Pavlova):
3 large egg whites
½ cup plus 1 tbsp white granulated sugar
¼ cup confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200º F (95º C) degrees. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside.
  2. Put the egg whites in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar about 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. (The whites should be firm but moist.)
  3. Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold the dry ingredients into the white. (This looks like it will not happen. Fold gently and it will eventually come together.)
  4. Fill a pastry bag with the meringue. Pipe the meringue into whatever shapes you desire. Alternatively, you could just free form your shapes and level them a bit with the back of a spoon.
  5. Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Recipe 2: Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse (for the top of the Pavlova base):
3/4 cup heavy cream (cream with a milk fat content of between 36 and 40 percent)
grated zest of 1/2 average sized lemon
4.5 ounces 72% chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup mascarpone
pinch of nutmeg
1 tbsp Grand Marnier (or orange juice)

  1. Put 1/4 cup of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.
  2. Place the mascarpone, the remaining cup of cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the Grand Marnier and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK.)
  3. Mix about ¼ of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse. Again, you could just free form mousse on top of the pavlova.
Recipe 3: Mascarpone Cream (for drizzling):
1 recipe crème anglaise
1/4 cup mascarpone
1 tbsp Sambucca (optional)
1/4 cup heavy cream


  1. Prepare the crème anglaise. Slowly whisk in the mascarpone and the Sambucca and let the mixture cool. Put the cream in a bowl and beat with electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.
Recipe 4: Crème Anglaise (a component of the Mascarpone Cream above):
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
3 tbsp sugar

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.
  2. Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat.
  3. Pour about ½ cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep from making scrambled eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. DO NOT OVERCOOK.
  4. Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.
Pipe the mousse onto the pavlovas and drizzle with the mascarpone cream over the top. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and fresh fruit if desired.


Mending a Broken Mayonnaise

I have not made mayonnaise in years, but what I do remember is that it was very easy.  As a result, I guess I just did not pay much attention to detail.  Previously I made it in a blender and it was a snap.  I don't have a blender right now so I thought I would try it with my hand mixer.  Disastrous!  It was just a mixture of oil and egg yolk and flavourings with no emulsion forming.

Rather than just toss it, I wanted to see if I could remake it successfully.  I did!

It was very simple.  I used one egg yolk and the oil mixture from the failed mayonnaise.  I left them both sit at room temperature for an hour or so.  It is critical that they both be at the same temperature.

Then I simply whipped the yolk by hand with a whisk.  Gradually, and I mean gradually, add the oil mixture.  I started with about a half a teaspoon and very gradually increased the amount of oil when the mixture was emulsified.  Eventually I was able to add by tablespoonfuls but I did not take a chance on a quantity larger than this.

It didn't take very long to produce a nice thick and creamy mayonnaise.  Store in an airtight container and chill.  Homemade mayonnaise will keep for about 3 weeks.

I will also share my recipe.  However, I am including the instructions for making it in a blender or food processor.  Alternatively, I would make it by hand with a whisk.


2 egg yolks
3/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon of mustard powder
3/4 teaspoon of salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
4 to 5 teaspoons of lemon juice

Place yolks, salt, mustard, sugar, pepper, and 3 teaspoons lemon juice in blender cup or work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade, and buzz 15 seconds (use low blender speed). Now, with motor running, slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup oil (use moderately high blender speed). As mixture begins to thicken, continue adding oil in a fine steady stream, alternating with remaining lemon juice. Stop motor and scrape mixture down from sides of blender cup or work bowl as needed.


Rhubarb Creamtini

I love the combination of cream with rhubarb and thought it be worth a try in a rhubarb cocktail.  The simple sugar provides both the sweetness of sugar and the tartness of rhubarb.

Rhubarb Creamtini
1 oz. vodka
1 oz. cream
1 oz. rhubarb simple syrup

Shake with ice and pour into a martini glass.  Garnish with an edible flower such as a pansy.


Oat Risotto with Fiddleheads and Tender Garlic Chicken Wings

I have been pondering how to cook the oats that my friends Greg and Jerry gave me and I am finally gathering the courage to try a few things.  A risotto seems like a natural for a grain.  Oats are so healthy and hearty.  A small serving is sufficient.

I also found a Scottish recipe for a skirlie.  It is very similar to a risotto but...uses rolled oats and there is no cheese.  So, I think the risotto will be more to our taste.

They cook a lot like wild rice but don't open up as much.  I think a mixture of oat with wild rice would be nice.  I would suggest using them like one would use brown rice.

This is a spring risotto and served with chicken wings from a wonderful Hutterite chicken.  When I was young and working at KFC to pay my way through university, my boss would always say "The wings are the dessert.  That is why they are on the bottom of the bucket.  Save the sweetest for last."   It took me years before I agreed with him.   Everyone thinks that wings have to be finger food.  This will change your mind on that.

Oat Risotto with Fiddleheads and Tender Garlic Chicken Wings

1/2 cup of oat grain
2 tablespoons shallots, finely diced
2 tablespoons butter
1 - 2 cups of chicken broth
2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup of fiddleheads

Saute the shallots in butter.  Add the oat grains and toast.  Add the chicken broth a half a cup at a time and cook the oat grains over medium low heat until tender but still chewy.  This will take about 45 mintues.   Stir in the steamed fiddleheads and grated cheese.

These could also be served in a cazuela.  Or place a scoop of the oat risotto on a dinner plate and serve with 2 chicken wing pieces and garnish.

Garlic Chicken Wings
  • 12 chicken wings, tips removed
  • Sweet paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed, plus 2 cloves, minced
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup fino or manzanilla sherry
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish
Rub the chicken with paprika, salt, and pepper and set aside at room temperature for at least 1 hour or preferably in the refrigerator at least 8 hours or overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 400°F.
In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the crushed garlic and cook, stirring, until softened but not colored, 2 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and fry, turning as needed, until golden on both sides, 5 to 8 minutes. You want them nicely colored on the outside but not cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain briefly, and then arrange the pieces in a cazuela or baking dish large enough to hold them in a single layer. 

Remove the crushed garlic from the oil and discard. Return the pan to low heat. Add the minced garlic and cook briefly. Add the thyme, bay leaves, sherry, and broth, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and pour over the chicken. 

Bake the chicken until cooked through, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and discard the bay leaves and thyme. If the pan juices are thin, transfer to a small saucepan and cook over medium high heat until reduced, and then return to the cazuela. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve at once.


Chocolate Ancho Chili Flourless Cake

I made this cake last week.  There were a couple of people with lots of stress in their lives and a birthday, so I brought this as a birthday cake.  I had already purchased some amazing chocolate online at Chocolat-Chocolat in Montreal.  I received it in about 4 or 5 days.  I bought 6 kg of superior grade chocolate.  Everyone thinks I'm crazy, but it has a two year shelf life and I have a cold room.

At some point I will do a chocolate tasting class and I am all set.

And as an ulterior motive, it will begin to introduce my colleagues to my cooking.  I am using only the best of ingredients - a Dutch process cocoa powder and a 70% dark chocolate couverture.

I took my camera to the office but between the stress of having people taste my cooking and their ravenous appetites, I didn't get any pictures!  The real whipped cream really impressed them.  As well, I took some nice plates and my good flatware.  With all that money spent on good chocolate, there was no way we were going to eat these on paper plates with plastic forks.

Chocolate Ancho Chili Flourless Cake                     Emeril Lagasse

1 cup unsalted butter
8 ounces dark chocolate
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3 tablespoons ancho chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
pinch of ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F.

Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan.  Line the bottom with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In the top of a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter over medium low heat.  Remove from the heat and mix in the cocoa powder, ancho chili powder and salt.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of the sugar until thick and pale yellow in colour.  Fold the chocolate mixture into the yolks and mix well.

In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until thick.  Whisking, add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar gradually and continue to beat to form a light meringue.  In several additions, fold into the chocolate mixture, being careful not to deflate the meringue.  Gently pour into the prepared pan and bake until the edges are set but the centre is still moist and a few crumbs stick to a tester, about 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Run a thin, sharp knive around the edge of the cake.  Remove the pan sides and gently lift away the cake.  Invert onto a cake plate, remove the bottom and peel away the parchment.

In a bowl, beat the cream with an electric mixer until frothy.  Add the confectioner's sugar and cinnamon and continue to beat until the cream holds soft peaks.

To serve, slice the cake with a portion of the sweetened whipped cream.  Garnish with cocoa powder and serve.



The only time I have eaten posole was when I was in New Mexico visiting the beautiful Acoma Pueblo.  It was served at the visitors' centre restaurant.  When I was in Tennessee, I found a little Mexican store.  They were selling the dried corn used to make this soup.  I had to buy it.  I also bought this rustic bowl at that same store.

The squeezed lime juice added at the time of eating is essential to bringing out the best flavours of the dish.  If you don't like the idea of using pig's trotters, then just use pork shoulder.  It would be just fine.  I used a chiffonade of spinach, since it is in my garden.  I like the addition of garnishes on top.

I bought this lovely piece of handmade pottery at the pueblo.  It is a seed pot.  The pot would be filled with seeds and then you could shake them into the furrow to plant them.  It fits in the palm of your hand.

  • 1 bunch mint (1 ounce)
  • 1 bunch cilantro (1 ounce)
  • 4 pounds country-style pork ribs (not lean)
  • 10 cups water
  • 26 garlic cloves (about 1 1/2 heads), peeled, divided
  • 1 (1/2-pound) white onion, quartered, plus 1/2 cup, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
  • 5 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 ounces dried guajillo or New Mexico chiles (6 to 9), wiped clean
  • 1 1/2 ounces dried ancho chiles (2 to 4), wiped clean
  • 1 whole clove
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 (15-ounce) cans hominy (also called pozole), rinsed and drained
  • Accompaniments: diced avocado; crema; queso fresco; thinly sliced iceberg or romaine lettuce or cabbage; chopped white onion; sliced radishes; fried tortilla strips or chips; lime wedges; dried oregano; dried hot red-pepper flakes
Tie together mint and cilantro with kitchen string.
Bring pork and water to a boil in a large pot, skimming froth, then reduce heat to a simmer. Add tied herbs, 20 garlic cloves, quartered onion, oregano, peppercorns, and 2 teaspoons salt and gently simmer, uncovered, until pork is very tender, about 3 hours. Strain broth through a large sieve into a large heatproof bowl. Return broth to pot. Discard mint and cilantro.  Pick through the meat and onions and discard bones and coarsely shred pork into broth.  Also rub the onions and garlic between your fingers to make a puree and add back to broth. 

Meanwhile, slit chiles lengthwise, then stem and seed. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat until hot, then toast chiles in batches, opened flat, turning and pressing with tongs, until more pliable and slightly changed in color, about 30 seconds per batch. Transfer to a bowl and pour 2 1/2 cups boiling water over chiles. Soak, covered, until softened, about 30 minutes.

Purée chiles with 1 1/2 cups soaking liquid, chopped onion, remaining 6 garlic cloves, clove, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in cleaned blender until a smooth paste forms, about 2 minutes.

Heat oil in cast-iron skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then add chile paste (it will spatter) and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 5 minutes.

Add chile paste and hominy back to the broth and simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt.  Slice suggested accompaniments and serve the stew with these.  Add them to your individual bowls of stew as desired.

Cooks' note: Posole can be made 3 days ahead. Chill, uncovered, to cool, then cover.

Windscape Kite Festival

Swift Current has a destination kite festival every year in June.  Kite flyers come from all over U.S. and Canada to participate in many categories.  There are dances to classical music, multiple stringed kites, groups who do synchronized flying, novelty kites and then just every day fliers.  Many of these performers have participated in festivals all over the world, including Germany, France, Belgium, Israel, Africa, India, Thailand and China.

There is a Kite Store and a children's tent.  There are kite workshops and even a kite hospital.  The Long Day's Night Music Festival complements the kite festival with good entertainment for three evenings.

And the best is absolutely free!  Check it out at


Day Trip in SW Saskatchewan

It was a dull rainy day and I was tired of working in my house.  I decided to go for a drive.  There is an interesting art gallery a couple of hours away and that was my planned destination.  Thank heaven I did this little jaunt before all the flooding this week!  The river is now swollen and Maple Creek has been declared in a state of emergency.

The first thing I found was my little lamb!  I have ordered a lamb from a farmer in Success.  As I am approaching the village, I saw a farm on the right with a herd of bleating sheep replete with sheep dog.  (That black sheep is not the sheep dog!  Puppy had something in his mouth and was taking it back to the farmhouse.)  They are so cute.  I am sure that one of these has my name on it.

After driving through the most horrendous road construction (picture no flag people and huge machinery and big clods of soil and no indication which side of the road I was to be on) I came upon this absolutely charming cemetery.

The older graves had these hand made wrought iron crosses on them.  They were so creatively made with whatever was at hand and a simple heart bearing the information on the interred.

I had lunch in a small town called Leader.  From there I travelled west on a gravel road for about 10 km and turned north toward a settlement called Estuary.  Estuary is actually a spot on the map.  There is a large Hutterite colony and there is a tiny ferry to take cars across the South Saskatchewan River.

The river has a strong current and I am always stressed to go on the water especially my car on a little 2-car ferry.  It only lasted for a couple of minutes!  The country side was spectacular, as was the variety of birds.  My short wait for the ferry allowed me to enjoy such a variety of song birds.  After a short drive through ravines and past farms, I found the gallery, Sagebrush Studio.  Alas, it was closed.  It opens in June for the summer season and is advertised as 'open by chance or appointment'.  I took a chance!

They have also developed a beautiful garden along with the three churches they have brought in to stage their gallery.

My day ended in Maple Creek with a little bit of shopping and a dinner of mussels at The Star.  It is rather upscale for a little ranching town.

A centrepiece of the decor is this painting.  It is huge.  If you really look at the bottom left side, you can see buffalo in the swirls of colour.  This is an original by Barry Weiss who has his studio above the restaurant.


Ginger Rhubarb Chutney

I want to make full use of my rhubarb.  After making the rhubarb simple syrup, I had pulp left over.  I thought that a chutney would be a good use for it.  This is delicious with an aged cheddar.  This is my last post on rhubarb...for now!

Ginger Rhubarb Chutney

5 cups of rhubarb, cut into 1" pieces
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup finely diced fresh ginger
1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon of finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Combine the brown sugar, vinegar and lemon zest in a medium sized non-reactive pot and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Add the rhubarb, cinnamon and ginger.  Continue to cook until the rhubarb has completely broken down.  Add raisins, walnuts and salt.  Simmer for another 5 minutes.  Chill and serve.


Rhubarb Simple Syrup

My neighbour, Verdella, arrived with an armful of rhubarb yesterday.  My mind starts working immediately.  I wanted to make this rhubarb syrup to use with sparkling water or in martinis and cocktails.

Rhubarb Simple Syrup

2 cups of chopped red rhubarb stalks
2 cups of water
1 cup of sugar

Bring the water and rhubarb to a boil and turn off the heat.  Allow this to steep overnight.  Strain and reserve the juice.  Add the sugar and bring to a boil.  Chill.  Dilute with sparkling water to serve.  It would also be good with a nice sparkling wine.


Rhubarb Crostada with Crème Anglaise

It is finally rhubarb season in my part of the world.  My good neighbour, Verdella, came to my house this afternoon with an armful for me.

Crème Anglaise is really just a thick pouring custard.  It can be used with cakes, pies and fresh fruit.  It is so simple and can be so elegant.  I always use a double boiler when making this.  I think it will be excellent with rhubarb crostada.

Rhubarb Crostada with Crème Anglaise

Crème Anglaise

1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
3 tbsp sugar

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.
  2. Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat.
  3. Pour about ½ cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to keep from making scrambled eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. DO NOT OVERCOOK.
  4. Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until the mixture is thoroughly chilled, about 2 hours or overnight.
Rhubarb Crostada

Pastry Dough:
3/4 c chilled, unsalted butter
3 tbsp ice water
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Cut butter into 1/2″ cubes; keep cold. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar and salt. Add chilled butter and mix it into dry ingredients using your fingertips. Add the ice water gradually until the crust has a crumbly, crumb like texture. Turn out onto work surface. Shape into disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least one hour. In the meantime, prepare the filling.

5c (about 5 medium stalks) rhubarb, diced into 1″ cubes
zest of 1/2 an orange
1 c sugar
1/3 c cornstarch
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
approx 3 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice

small handful of flour for work surface
2 tbsp cream
1/4 c turbinado sugar

Combine rhubarb; zest in large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add dry to rhubarb mixture and mix. Add orange juice and mix well. The dry ingredients should be slightly wet. If they are still very dry, add more juice, 1 tbsp at a time, mixing after each addition. Set aside.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Remove the dough from refrigerator and let rest on counter for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle a small handful of flour on the work surface, unwrap the dough and place on flour. Using a rolling pin, pound the dough to flatten slightly. Start rolling the disk out, starting at the center, rotating the disk so that your pin is always straight (this will prevent the dough from sticking to the work surface). Be sure to reshape the dough into a circle whenever necessary and to repair any cracks. Once the dough is about 1/2″ thick, roll it onto the rolling pin and transfer it to the prepared sheet.

Mix the rhubarb filling once again. It should be quite moist at this point. Pile the filling in the center of the dough and spread out, leaving a 2″ border. Fold the sides of the crostada up over the filling. Repair any small tears.Brush the crostada crust with cream (do not brush the filling) using a pastry brush. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar on top of the wash.

Bake for about 45 min or until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden. Serve with Creme Anglaise.


What do I Love Most about my House?

Grace at Sense and Simplicity is hosting a 'What do I Love Most about my House' tomorrow.  As some of you may know, I have recently purchased a 'fixer upper'.  I was hesitant to participate in this discussion because I have barely begun my work.  But Grace is so 'gracious' that I just had to join in.  Here it goes...

I love my neighbours.

I love the 1960's bungalows because they are a blank canvas.

I love having a larger piece of land with good sunlight and a garden.

I love my big window in the front.

I love being steps away from the park and pathway.


Pâté de Campagne

This month the Daring Cooks are making pâté.  I have wanted to do this for a long, long time so it is good impetus to have this challenge.  Michael Ruhlman is becoming my 'go to' for charcuterie so I searched out a recipe from him.  This seems like a good beginner recipe.  I am also making the suggested recipe and will compare.

To go with the pâté I am making lavash.  I have made this before but will try a new recipe this time.  This is Peter Reinhart's recipe. 

I don't have many pictures.  This was all too new to me to get the camera set up.  And good thing!  You should have seen the mess in the kitchen!  This is definitely something that I will make in bulk and freeze because it is a production.  Pâté would make a wonderful gift.  You might want to make a day of it close to Christmas and then freeze individual slices to give away.

Our hostesses this month, Evelyne of Cheap Ethnic Eatz, and Valerie of a The Chocolate Bunny, chose delicious pâté with freshly baked bread as their June Daring Cook's challenge! They've provided us with 4 different pâté recipes to choose from and are allowing us to go wild with our homemade bread choice.

Three Spice Liver Pâté
Yields one 25 by 12,5 cm (10 by 5 inch) terrine or loaf pan
1 lb / 454 grams pork liver (or beef or combination)
1/2 lb / 227 grams ground pork
1/2 lb / 227 grams pork fat (or pork belly)
2 cloves garlic
2 shallots
1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp / 2 ml cinnamon
1/2 tsp / 2 ml coriander (ground or crushed)
1/2 tsp / 2 ml cumin
3/4 tsp / 3 ml salt
1 tbps / 15 ml coarse freshly cracked peppercorns
2 tbps / 30 ml cognac
2 bay leaves
1 package of bacon

Preheat oven to to 350F (180C).
Cut liver and pork fat into small pieces and add to food processor. Add ground pork, garlic, shallots, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Grind until smooth.
In mixing bowl, incorporate the meat and liver mixture with the cognac and eggs.
Line bottom of baking or ceramic pan with overlapping pieces of bacon. Place a bay leaf on the bottom and then fill with meat/liver mixture. Cover top with another bay leaf and then overlapping pieces of bacon.
Place in oven in the larger baking pan and add enough water to cover 2/3rds of the pan containing the meat/liver mixture. Bake for about 1-1.5 hrs.
The pâté will contract and the juices will be on the bottom. Allow to cool and soak up the juices. Remove any excess bacon and discard the bay leaves.

I made this exactly as per the recipe.  I had my doubts about using the food processor for the procedure.  This is not for weak constitutions.  Pork liver was a new experience for me.  But it is so cheap.  I had to order it in advance from my butcher and then I had to buy the whole thing, which was about 4 pounds.  I have frozen the excess to use at a future time.  I had already made the pâté spice for the following recipe so I used it rather than the seasonings in this recipe.  They are almost identical.

Two questions about this recipe - what is 'excess bacon' and how to I determine if the pâté is cooked?


Pâté de Campagne

From Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn (W. W. Norton, 2005).  2005 Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.

Makes 10 to 12 appetizer servings

A pâté de campagne, or country terrine, is a rustic preparation, slightly more refined than a pâté grandmère mainly in that it uses only a small amount of liver,liver is a seasoning device here rather than the dominant flavor. Also unlike the pâté grandmère, some internal garnish, such as fresh herbs and chunks of smoked ham or duck confit, go a long way. The panade (notice that it's made with flour, not bread) helps to retain moisture and to enrich and bind the pâté.

Most of the meat is ground through a large die, and none of it is pureed, to achieve the characteristic coarse texture of a country terrine. Although only a small amount of liver is used, try to use pork liver if possible rather than chicken liver, because it will allow you to cook the terrine to a lower final temperature and therefore produce a moister pâté.

A pâté de campagne is the easiest terrine to make, and in the spirit of its origins,a humble but delicious dish made from trimmings or inexpensive cuts of meat,should be made with whatever garnish is on hand and eaten simply, with a good baguette and French Dijon. Add a salad of fresh greens, and you've got a simple midweek meal. It's also a fabulous make-ahead dish for a weekend dinner party.
  • 2 pounds/1 kilogram boneless pork shoulder butt, cut into 1-inch/2.5-centimeter dice
  • 4 ounces/100 grams pork or chicken liver
  • 1/4 cup/50 grams chopped white or yellow onion
  • 8 tablespoons/48 grams coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons/24 grams minced garlic
  • 1 ounce/25 grams kosher salt (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon/3 grams freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon/2 grams Pâté Spice (recipe follows)
  • 2 tablespoons/20 grams all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons/30 milliliters brandy
  • 1/2 cup/125 milliliters heavy cream
  • Optional Garnish (mix and match to taste):
    Diced ham, cooked mushrooms, rinsed brine-cured green peppercorns, duck confit (a total of 1 cup/250 milliliters).
1. Freeze all your blades and bowls before gathering and measuring your ingredients.
2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F., 150 degrees C.
3. Grind the pork through the large die into the bowl of a standing mixer set in ice. Transfer about one-third of the pork to a small bowl, and add the liver, onion, parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and pâté spice. Fit the grinder with the small die (clean the blade of any sinew that might be caught there) and grind the pork-seasonings mixture into the bowl of coarsely ground pork. Refrigerate.
4. In a small bowl, combine the flour, eggs, brandy, and cream and stir to blend,this is the panade. Add it to the ground meat and, using the paddle attachment, mix until the panade is incorporated and the forcemeat becomes sticky, about a minute. (You can also do this using a wooden spoon or your hands.) Fold in the optional garnish, if using.
5. Do a quenelle test to check the seasoning, and adjust if necessary.
6. Line a 1 1/2 quart/1.5-liter terrine mold with plastic wrap, leaving enough overhand on the two long sides to fold over the top of the terrine when it's filled (moistening the mold first will help the plastic adhere). Fill the mold with the pâté mixture, packing it down to remove air pockets. Fold the plastic wrap over the top, and cover with the lid or with foil.
7. Place the terrine in a high-sided roasting pan and add enough hot water (very hot tap water) to come halfway up the sides of the mold. Put the pan in the oven and bake until the interior of the pâté reaches 150 degrees F., 65 degrees C. if using pork liver, 160 degrees F., 70 degrees C. if using chicken liver, about 1 hour.
8. Remove from the oven, remove the mold from the water bath, and set a weight of about 2 pounds/1 kilogram on top of the terrine. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until completely chilled, overnight, or for up to 1 week, before serving.

Pâté Spice
This is Brian's alternative to the traditional quatre èpices mixture often used to season pâtés. Increase or reduce the amounts of the ingredients to suit your own taste and make your pâtés distinctly your own.
Yield: 3 tablespoons/30 grams
  • 1 teaspoon/4 grams ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon/4 grams ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon/3 grams ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon/3 grams ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons/6 grams ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon/10 grams white pepper
1. Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

I had not used the meat grinder attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer until this challenge.  Needless to say I was a little nervous.  But that quickly vanished and I became quite comfortable with it.  One very important little tip when grinding your own meat.  When all of your meat is ground, pass a piece of bread or a bun through the machine.  This will clean out any meat left in it and cleaning is a snap.  Of course, don't add this last portion of ground bread to your meat, unless of course, you are making something like meat loaf or meatballs and it wouldn't interfere with the recipe.

I prefer this recipe for one big reason - it tells me when the pâté is done.  The first recipe assumes that I will recognize when it is fully cooked.

Lavash Crackers     Peter Reinhart's recipe
1 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1/2 teaspoon instant yeast 

1 tablespoon sugar 

1 tablespoon vegetable oil 

1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature

Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings
1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, yeast, sugar , oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.
2. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough, satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).
4. Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt , a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.
6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).
7. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.


Granola Cookies

I have been craving something sweet.  This is a simple recipe but is delicious and will fit the bill.  This is an old recipe, one that I used when I was teaching high school home economics in 1975. 

I used what was in my kitchen.  Rather than peanuts, I had some walnuts.  I used my homemade granola so it was already very rich with nuts and fruits.  I threw in some more raisins and I had a partial package of white chocolate chips.

p.s.  you can tell this is from 1975 by the size of the cookies...drop by teaspoonfuls!  Can you imagine!  Now we select the size of ice cream scoop we will use!

Granola Cookies

1 3/4 cups granola
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup soft butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup peanuts (unsalted)

Sift dry ingredients together.  Cream butter with sugars.  Add egg and beat until foamy.  Add dry ingredients into mixture.  Mix.  Add raisins and peanuts.  Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls about 2" apart on a greased cookie sheet.  Bake 12-15 minutes at 375F.


Grilled Mahi Mahi with Pineapple Sambal and Guest Post for Lazaro

I am doing my very first ever guest post today!  Yeah!  Go to Lazaro's blog and let him know that you are reading.  This is what I have posted for him -

Hello to all of you, the Lazaro followers!  This is my first time participating in a guest post so I might feel a little stilted.  I must say, I had no idea I had become so comfortable talking to my own 'group' on my blog.

Actually I blogged for months before realizing I had a group.  So one day I added that gadget or widget thingy, whatever it is called.  Blew my socks off that people out there were reading me.  At first it felt weird, then I felt like I had my own little soap box and then I realized I had found a whole group of new friends.  I love this blogging world.

I have no idea how Lazaro and I met but glad we did.  I love reading his posts and also meeting all of you through his blog.  When he asked me to be a guest, I didn't even have to think.  I wasn't sure what to make and then I relaxed back into my own groove and realized that I am inspired by what is in my kitchen.

Pineapple was on sale and I could not resist.  Now comes the challenge.  What do I do with it?  I live alone and all this cooking can sometimes provide way more food than I can manage to eat.  So if I am able put it away for a later use, it is a bonus.

The obvious ideas are a fruity salsa, a sorbet or grilled.  But I would really like to try something new.  And, since I am guest blogging for Lazaro, I would like something somewhat new and exciting.

Scanning through a lot of the same ideas for pineapple finally led me to this one.  It was love at first sight.  The pineapple was cooked and this means that I can preserve this in jars or freeze it for later use.

Actually, I have never thought of pineapple as a blank palette for showcasing flavours.  I found this sambal.

If you plan to preserve the leftover sambal, then do not stir in the cilantro.  Set aside the sambal you will be preserving and stir cilantro only into the portion that you will be eating immediately.  When you serve the preserves, stir cilantro in at the time of serving it for a fresher taste.

Pineapple and mahi mahi are a match made in a Pacific island.  This fish is also very firm and ideal for grilling on a barbecue.  I simply brushed the fish with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper and then placed it directly on the grill.

I grilled it for 2 minutes then placed it to get a nice criss-cross grilling pattern and grilled for 2 more minutes.  Then I turned it over and did the same on the other side.  This was enough to completely cook the fish.

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Pineapple Sambal

In Indonesia the word sambal covers a very wide range of condiments.  This one is sweet and spicy.

2 garlic cloves, minced
3 shallots, finely chopped
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
2 fresh Thai chilis or 3 serranos, minced including seeds
1 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 pieces ( an inch or more thick) with skin on mahi mahi

Cook garlic and shallots in 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy 12" skillet over medium heat until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add chiles and pineapple and cook over moderately high heat and stirring occasionally, until pineapple is softened, about 4 or 5 minutes.  Add fish sauce, sugar and salt and saute sambal, stirring, 30 seconds.  Cool to room temperature and then stir in cilantro.

While sambal is cooling, prepare the grill for cooking.  If you are using a charcoal grill, open the bottom vents and light charcoal.  If using a gas grill, heat on medium.  Charcoal fire is medium hot when you can hold your hand for 3 or 4 seconds  5 inches over the coals.

Brush fish all over with remaining oil.  Grill skin sides down until skin is crisp, 4 or 5 minutes.  Turn over and grill just until fish is cooked through, 4 or 5 minutes more.  Serve with sambal.


Baked Potato Soup

I had a couple of baked potatoes left over from a barbecue a couple of days ago, and I am not one to waste food.  I did something different this time.  After sauteing the onion and celery, I added the potato puree back to the pan.  All the carmelization that occurred with the onions and celery was scraped up and blended into the soup.  This made a much richer colour.

Cream of Baked Potato Soup

2 baked potatoes, peeled
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup of whole cream
1/2 cup of chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon of wasabi powder
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup finely diced sweet onion
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1 slice bacon, fried until crispy

Purée the potatoes, liquids, and seasonings in a food processor.  Meanwhile, saute the onion and celery until nicely carmelized.  Also add these to the food processor and purée.  Return all to the pan and reheat.  Serve garnished with crumbled, crisp cooked bacon.


Flat Pie

I ate the largest meal tonight that I have had in a long time.  It wasn't large in quantity, but large in calories!

I made pâté a few days ago and finally gathered my courage to test it tonight.  I will be blogging about that in about a week or so.  What a heavenly meal though!  My homemade pâté and fresh mesculun greens from my very own garden.  And that paired with my own lavash.  I savoured every bite.

My good neighbour Verdella called just as I finished eating.  I wanted to give her some of my pâté so I ran across the back lane with my little package of two different kinds.  She had just made flat pie.  I don't know if it is her own invention or if it is common out here among the farm and ranch families.  It is a pie made flat in a jelly roll pan or baking sheet with sides.  It is easy to pack out to the guys when they are working on the land.

She makes the best pastry I have ever tasted.  I'll be hitting her up for her recipe and tips on pastry.  I'm sure it is made with lard.

I just have to tell you that ever since I have been painting bedrooms, shovelling red shale, shovelling top soil and cutting flower beds, I have lost 10 pounds!  I have been so busy with working on the house that I haven't been cooking so much but what I have made has been very satisfying.  But tonight was over the top!  Such a treat.

Pork Chops with Pineapple Chutney

It is grilling season and pork chops are so quick and easy.  They are also cheap!  It is also pineapple season so I have found this great pineapple chutney recipe that works very well with pork.  It is so delicious!

Pork is also a commonly eaten meat in the same places that pineapple and papaya flourish.  It's a great match.

I put the extra chutney in the freezer for another dinner later this summer.  Easy cooking is the key!

Pineapple Chutney

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 pineapple, peeled, cored and finely diced
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
3/4 cup diced papaya
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1/4 cup peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
3 tablespoons allspice berries, toasted
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Toast the allspice berries and add the vinegar.  Heat and reduce to 1/4 cup and discard the berries.

Combine vinegar and all ingredients in saucepan and cook over high heat until boiling, stirring frequently.   Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the pineapple has softened and the mixture has thickened, about 45 minutes.  Cool completely.  Refrigerate up to 30 days or freeze up to 3 months.


Kumquat Ice Cream

Kumquats keep well in the refrigerator.  I should know.  I bought these about a month ago!  I had fancy ideas, I suppose, but they kept sitting there, in the crisper drawer, week after week.  Finally I made them into ice cream tonight.  I am sure I will make some wonderful chocolate chocolate triple chocolate cake that will go swimmingly with this.  But for now, it is kumquat ice cream.  This has little pieces of rind throughout and is a nice tart yet sweet and creamy dessert.

Kumquat Ice Cream

2 cups kumquats, thinly sliced and seeds removed
2 tablespoons diced fresh ginger
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Boil these together until the kumquats are very tender, about 30-45 minutes.  Cool.  Puree in food processor.

1 cup whipping cream
1 cup milk
2 eggs

Beat the eggs until foamy and add the cream and milk.  Heat over a double boiler until it has thickened, about 20 minutes.

Mix the kumquat mixture with the custard and cool to room temperature.  Then process in ice cream maker according to instructions.